SXSW: Health startups hit $2.8 billion in funding

Unity Stoakes, founder and president of Startup Health, said he sees a decade of opportunity ahead in the healthcare industry. Stoakes made his remarks at a March 8 session of South By Southwest Interactive 2014.

Unity Stoakes, founder and president of Startup Health, said he sees a decade of opportunity ahead in the healthcare industry. Stoakes made his remarks at a March 8 session of South By Southwest Interactive 2014. Credit: Priti Ubhayakar

As founder and president of Startup Health, Unity Stoakes knows that investors are betting big on health and wellness startups. Funding topped $2.8 billion last year and 2014 is set to smash those figures. Innovative young companies have already secured $1.7 billion in January and February alone, according to Startup Health’s insights database.

At SXSW’s annual healthcare startup bootcamp, Stoakes discussed why conditions are perfect for a new phase in digital health discovery.

“The future of our health and wellness is going to be changed because of entrepreneurs and innovators,” says Stoakes. “We call these individuals healthcare transformers.”

Startup Health is a global platform that helps entrepreneurs through its academy, peer-group support network, and community of healthcare industry experts. The organization’s goal is to help 1,000 “healthcare transformers” build sustainable businesses over the next ten years.

“Industries have all been re-imaged because of the internet and new technologies, says Stoakes, “We are finally seeing this moment of creative disruption happen in healthcare.”

According to Startup Health, a decade of opportunity awaits due to four unique conditions:

  1. Changing business models due to health reform
  2. A need for healthcare innovation driven by an aging population, increase in chronic diseases, and rising costs
  3. New possibilities through digital and mobile technologies
  4. A wave of entrepreneurs focused on “re-imaging healthcare”

 Credit: Startup Health

Credit: Startup Health

Fitbit is one startup that has found success in this fertile digital landscape. Founded in 2007, the company has developed a range of personal motion sensors that track an individual’s physical activity and transmit the data to an online account. Fitbit’s first device, Fitbit Tracker, uses a 3D accelerometer like ones found in the Wii Remote. It measures steps taken and combines it with user data to calculate distance walked, calories burned, floors climbed, and activity duration and intensity. Other devices, ranging in price from $59 to $129, track metrics on sleep, weight and other key health and wellness indicators. By using digital and mobile technology to address fitness concerns, Fitbit has proved an attractive prospect for investors, securing $66 million in four rounds of funding.

The healthcare benefits of personal data trackers like Fitbit reach beyond the individual wearing the device, providing invaluable data for doctors and researchers to track the ups and downs of patients’ conditions as they go about their lives.

Startup Health monitors the activities of hundreds of startups like Fitbit with its insights reports and database. The tool offers publicly available data on funding, investors, locations, and deals. With 102 startups funded in the last two months, digital entrepreneurs can look forward to more healthy doses of investment in 2014.

“We’re in the midst of a digital revolution — we’re living in a connected world, says Stoakes. This technology and innovation is being integrated into healthcare systems, into our daily lives, and is enabling us to take greater control of our health and wellness.”

 

Priti Ubhayakar

Priti Ubhayakar

Assistant Editor at Tech Page One
Priti Ubhayakar is a digital media expert with a background in writing and editing for the Web, print, TV, and film. Her work has appeared in Offshore Magazine, Time Out Magazine (Mumbai and Chicago), and Hybrid Magazine.
Priti Ubhayakar
Tags: Entrepreneurship,Gadgets & Devices,Healthcare,Industries